From what I've been able to find out, online sources recommend around 205ºC for PLA and around 240ºC for ABS. But these are only guidelines, of course. Optimal printing temperature can be different depending on the printer, the filament, the model and other slicer settings.

For example, I've had success printing black PLA at 190ºC, but silver PLA of the same brand is giving me trouble. I'm having a hard time figuring out the general rules. So I would like to see a general guide for this, based on (at least) the following questions:

  1. Which known factors before a print can help determine the right extrusion temperature? Obvious example: ABS vs PLA

  2. What can happen during or after a print when the temperature is too low?

  3. What can happen during or after a print when the temperature is too high?

An answer to the first question could take the form of a lookup table, or similar. The second and third could help someone adjust their temperature based on the symptoms of a failed print.

I understand that the failure or success of a print can depend on many more factors than extrusion temperature, but I didn't want to make this question too general. I may later ask the same question for other settings (e.g., print speed). However, do let me know if this question should be expanded or improved to make it more useful.


2 Answers 2


Printing temperature basics

Manufacturers generally specify a somewhat wide range of printing temperatures, and what temperature you should actually need can only be determined by trial and error:

  1. The thermistor in your hotend is not 100 % accurate and may have an offset of a few degrees compared to its actual temperature.

  2. Your hotend has a small temperature gradient, the place where the plastic is melted may have a higher/lower temperature compared to the temperature of your thermistor.

2 is further exacerbated by

  1. As you print faster, you need more heat. The cold filament rapidly moving through your hotend will cool it down locally, meaning that the temperature will be cooler than what the thermistor measures. Faster prints equal bumps in the temperature up to 10 °C, and for a really slow print you might turn it down 10 °C from where you normally are.

  2. This is a minor issue, but different colors of the same brand and material might work better at different temperatures. The pigments used can affect the melting point somewhat. Different brands also might have different temperatures.

Some symptoms may give you a guide as to how to adjust your temperature:

Printing too hot

  • Small/slow prints may not solidify quickly enough, leaving you with an ugly blob.

  • Stringing/bad bridging.

  • Plastic in the heatbreak may soften, leading to clogging.

  • You might burn/degrade the material (but for this you would really need to go outside of the temperature range).

Printing too cool

  • Too much force required to extrude, leading so skipping/grinding of the filament drive.

  • Layer delamination: the plastic needs to be hot enough to partially melt the layer below it and stick to it. Objects printed at a colder temperature tend to be weaker at the layer boundaries.

Furthermore, hot prints can sometimes have a more glossy finish than colder prints.

  • $\begingroup$ Very useful, thanks! By any chance, are you aware of a specific 3D model that may help a person find their optimal temperature? Like, a model with certain characteristics that are particularly sensitive to temperature? $\endgroup$
    – mhelvens
    Commented Jun 3, 2016 at 23:00
  • $\begingroup$ @mhelvens Given that the ideal temperature depends on the model you're printing, such a model does not exist. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 6:29
  • $\begingroup$ Fair enough. ;-) But the reason a temperature may fail for a specific model probably depends on specific characteristics, like overhang, bridging, sharp corners and the like. I was imagining a model that has all of those characteristics, and could help you understand the 'temperature space'. $\endgroup$
    – mhelvens
    Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 19:05
  1. Some manufacturers give a recommended temperature which would be the best place to start at and adjust from there. Otherwise you could print calibration objects and find the best temp that way. Here is a temp tower for that purpose. Mostly it is a trial and error process with all the different printers out there. What might work on one printer may not work on another.

  2. The object may come apart if the temperature is too low as the plastic won't bond well between layers. You may also get a rough surface on the object and the filament may also jam in the hotend as well.

  3. Normally temperatures that are too high, your bridging wont be as good and you will get a lot of stringing. Stringing example, more filament will ooze out before retracting if your temperature is too high. Your overhangs may also curl at the edges as well.


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